Climate change could be good news for UK farmers according to a report from the Met Office, that says crop yields could rise by nearly 10% by 2011 due to a rise in temperature.
British farms could be fertile centres of productivity, with crops maturing faster and many of the UK’s main harvests including wheat, oats, barley, potatoes and strawberries benefiting from the slight warming.
The report, commissioned by the government, was launched at the UN Climate Conference in Durban, South Africa, on Tuesday.
It warned that temperatures would rise by 3C in the South of England and 2.5 C in the north if no attempts to reduce carbon emissions are made by countries around the world..
The report comes in the wake of one of Britain's warmest Novembers on record, with daffodils blooming in Cornwall, and confused ducklings born in a slightly chillier December.
A winter drought has been forecast if rainfall doesn't increase, and families rummaging for their Christmas decorations in the attic have been warned to watch out for wasps, which have been buzzing round for longer this year, making most of the inclement weather.
Though the rise in temperature is predicted to benefit British agriculture by 96%, climate change is still not good news. Within Britain alone, almost a quarter of people would be affected by a shortage of drinking water and there is a significantly increased flooding risk for much of the country.
The significance of this study by the Met Office's Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction And Research is its comprehensive comparison of how global warming will affect 24 different nations by 2100, with populations suffering from the changes rather than benefitting.
A map showing how populations are better or worse off if greenhouse gas emissions aren't reduced was published by the Independent, and compares how agriculture, water stress, inland flooding and coastal flooding will be affected by climate change.
Spanish farming will be decimated, its land transformed into desert dust, and 97% of Australian agriculture will be destroyed, if temperatures rise by three degrees. In Egypt almost the entire country will struggle to find enough drinking water.
Many countries would be turned into hostile climate environments. India would have to cope with a 272% increase in flooding, which will affect more than 15.7 million people. Kenya would also suffer acutely, with a 356% in flooding risk.
With poorer countries already suffering increasingly calamitous weather, thousands of ordinary people protested outside the Climate Conference on Saturday, angry that richer countries are not enthusiastically pledging support to a stricter version of the Kyoto agreement.
British Farmers are sceptical of the ‘benefits’ of climate change despite positive forecasts for UK agriculture. Guy Gagen, chief arable advisor at the National Farmers Union told the Times: "It’s not true that frost is the most critical factor in most of our crops, the main risk is heat stress.
He explained that farmers would be able to sow crops earlier in the year, but if they matured more quickly, they wouldn't benefit from long summer days. "In the Scottish Borders they generally get the highest yields because of the long days,” Gagen told the Times.
Making projections so far ahead it's difficult to forecast with complete accuracy, and as the Independent reports: the researchers used amalgamated results of 21 different computer models of the global climate, in institutes around the world, so wide margins of error are possible.
Attempts to decrease the effects of climate change would also benefit the ailing economy. A 'green' industry could kick start the production of jobs and start up companies."There are billions of pounds to be made," Andy Atkins, Executive Director of Friends of the Earth told the Telegraph.
"The Kyoto Protocol will boost Britain's economy by driving forward low-carbon trade, energy and manufacturing, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs."
"Many of the 30,000 positions in the UK solar sector were created in the last year alone. Many more will come from developing wind, wave and tidal power, insulating our homes, cleaning up our transport system, recycling and designing out waste."
Chris Huhne, the UK's Energy and Climate Change Secretary, said of the report:
“This report highlights some of the very real dangers we face if we don’t limit emissions to combat the rise in global temperature.
"The UK wants a legally binding global agreement to keep the global temperature rise below 2C. If this is achieved this study shows that some of the most significant impacts of climate change could be reduced significantly.”
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